Australia closures packaging - The young and alternative

Young consumers in Australia are becoming more comfortable buying wine in alternative size formats compared to their older peers as ‘wine in a can’ infiltrates the market. What does this mean for the standard 750ml bottle?

Will we always buy our wine in 750ml bottles? It’s a question that excites designers and marketers as much as it causes production directors with expensive bottling line installations to lose sleep. In a world where materials science is developing at an extraordinary rate, and packaging in other categories is evolving rapidly, it’s always a legitimate question to ask. Add in some social and environmental factors: we’re drinking less volume on informal occasions, meaning a 750ml bottle could last 2 people several days (though not always in my house), suggesting a 500ml or even a 375ml might be a better size; and that heavy glass bottles, while recyclable, take a lot of energy to create, and you have the potential for a major shift in consumer preferences.

So far, at least, the 750ml bottle is safe. There are many factors working in its favour, not least the fact that it represents a familiar, safe and reassuring delivery mechanism for consumers who can be somewhat intimidated by the wine category. It also benefits from being the industry standard within the supply chain, giving it an immense scale advantage in the production and shipping process. Many consumers also believe that glass is a more environmentally friendly container than either plastic or metal.

And yet, the tectonic plates of consumer behaviour may be changing with the generations. A recent report published by Wine Intelligence, Wine Packaging Formats and Closures in the Australian Market 2018, reports consumer preference evidence suggesting that younger Australian consumers (those under the age of 35) are more likely than older consumers to buy wine in alternative formats, specifically large 1.5L bottles or smaller half-bottle formats, than their older peers. It’s important to note that the under-35s first preference remains standard-sized wine bottles, in common with the market as a whole.

This trend can be seen in data on purchase, conversion and affinity, revealing that younger Australian wine drinkers not only have more openness towards and awareness of packaging formats beyond the standard 750ml bottle, but they actively purchase it as well. In Australia, 1.5L bottles are an important packaging format for party gifting and rosé, particularly premium rosé while smaller formats are important in the sparkling wine category.

This openness towards alternative wine formats amongst the younger generation comes at a time when ‘wine in a can’ formats are becoming more available. Earlier this year, Woolworth’s liquor division, Endeavour Drinks Group (EDG), launched wine available in a 250ml aluminium can in the Australian market. While this is not the first time these products have been available on-shelf in Australia, it is the first time that a major retailer has backed the launch of such a prolific range of varieties and styles. The launch date of these products occurred after the collection of data for this report.

Profiling of those aware of ‘wine in a can’ reveals that it is also younger regular wine drinkers who know this product exists. A statistically significant amount of those aware also state that they ‘enjoy trying new and different styles of wine.’ They are also ‘more likely than others to consider buying wine in alternative formats.’ However, wine in a can currently has the lowest consideration to purchase rates, and consumers interviewed for the report reveal hesitations towards cans.

Despite these alternative sizes gaining attention, the standard-size 750ml bottle is not falling in popularity. According to the report, the 750ml glass bottle remains the pack format of choice amongst regular wine drinkers, with over 80% having purchased their wine in this format in the last 3 months.

Author: Courtney Abernathy